Category Archives: Students

First-Generation College Celebration

First-generation students are defined broadly (neither parent has completed a four-year degree) or narrowly (neither parent has any postsecondary education).  With nearly one-third of freshman cohorts across the country designated first-generation, colleges and universities are building programs and resources specific to them and their needs.  ECU is no different.

According to the 2014 Beginning College Survey of Student Engagement (BCSSE) survey, between one-third and one-half of all first-time, full-time students entering ECU in Fall 2014 would be considered first generation students. For example, 55% of respondents to BCSSE indicated that no parent/guardian had a bachelor’s degree or higher and 33% indicated no parent had any schooling beyond high school. (Note: The 2017 BCSSE was administered during this past summer orientation).  

ECU is poised to continue intentional program for first-generation students and their families in order to address the challenges and needs of these students.  We begin by joining institutions around the country in celebrating first-generation college students, faculty, and staff on our campus.

Sponsored by NASPA – Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education and the American Association of Colleges & Universities (AACU), and ECU’s Division of Student Affairs, the inaugural First-Generation College Celebration is being celebrated nationally on November 8, 2017.  As a first-generation administrator, faculty, staff, and/or student, we invite you to join us in celebration.

Please respond at this link:


For more information, contact Dr. Mary Beth Corbin at or 252-328-4173.




Popular courses give students a way to examine various issues

Two courses at East Carolina University are giving students a way to examine and discuss diverse issues in a safe environment. Race, Gender, Class and the LGBT Identity, Society and Politics courses have increased in popularity since they were first established.

“I think ECU benefits from having courses like this. I know for me, institutions that have this type of coursework signal to the larger public, potential students and potential faculty that this is an institution that treats these issues seriously,” said Dr. Melinda Kane, Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences associate professor of sociology, who developed and teaches the courses.

“For students that are interested, it really helps them learn correct information as opposed to something they get from a social media site or personal experience, which may not reflect a larger pattern,” said Kane.

Race, Gender, Class is a 1000-level course that was first offered in fall 2012. It has grown from one section per semester to three sections per semester and one in the summer, which fill to capacity with 88-90 students each. In addition to Kane, the course is now taught by three other sociology faculty; Drs. Lori Heald, Arunas Juska and Rebecca Powers.

“What is great about the class is it introduces students to sociology around topics that really interest them, and I’ve found there is always something current event-wise that you can tie to the class,” said Kane. “We focus on three key areas that sociologists study all the time, helping the students see what sociologists do and the timeliness of topics. I think the students find the material more engaging.”

One subject examined was how students raised in families of different class-levels may be affected when it comes to student success.

“This resonated with me, especially because I was raised in a middle-class family,” said Tyrone Dupree, who took the course last year as a sophomore. He said he lacked access to tutors and other material that would have made him a better student. “This makes me want to raise my future child to be better academically,” he said.

“What I enjoyed most about the class was learning the factors that can lead to inequality because of race, gender, etc. People need to take these courses to truly understand how inequality works, and then we can have discussions on how we can fix these issues,” said Dupree.

Kane also designed LGBT Identity, Society and Politics as a special topic in fall 2011. It became its own 3000-level course in fall 2014. Although the course currently is offered only every other year, it fills with 40 students, and was taught online for the first time this past summer.

“The thing I enjoyed most about this course was that it challenged the typical heteronormative approach to LGBT issues we typically see in courses,” said Janae Somerville, a senior who took the course over the summer. “We are living during a time where issues of gender identity, expression and sexuality are becoming as fluid as ever. This course challenged me to look past my preconceptions of LGBT community and learn and hear different opinions that might not match my own. Overall, this course was extremely eye opening and embodied every bit of diversity this institution claims to have.”

Initially, Kane said several students took the special topic because they were committed to making sure it succeeded and to demonstrate the need for such a class.

“They wanted the special topic to do really well, so they took it even if they didn’t need it for their degree plan. Now, you get all types of majors and people who take the class because they are interested, as opposed to seeing it as a political statement,” said Kane.

“I think these types of courses are important for ECU as a community because it teaches you to do more than just empathize,” said Somerville. “These types of courses give you knowledge on topics we as a society often tiptoe around. As the saying goes, ‘knowledge is power,’ and without it we cannot grow. Empathizing with minority groups has never been enough, and will never be enough, but courses like these allow you to use resources on this campus to make a change.”


-by Lacey L. Gray, University Communications 

ECU’s School of Art and Design to host textile exhibit Nov. 1-17

A textile exhibit, “Fold Unfold,” will be on display in the Wellington B. Gray Gallery on the campus of East Carolina University from Nov. 1 through Nov. 17.

An opening reception will be held 5-8 p.m. on Nov. 3 to coincide with Uptown Greenville’s First Friday ArtWalk, which showcases new exhibits and discounts at participating restaurants and shops.

Curators Susan Falls and Jessica Smith will discuss their collaborative research and the development of the project in a gallery talk, “Fold Unfold: When Coverlets meet Op Art,” on Friday, Nov. 17 at 4 p.m. in Speight Auditorium in Jenkins Fine Arts Center.

All events are free and open to the public.

Falls, professor of anthropology, and Smith, professor of fibers, both at the Savannah College of Art and Design, invited more than 100 artists from the U.S. and Canada to weave objects that could be folded and unfolded, and were the size of typical 19th century coverlets. The weavers were asked to consider the patterning of 19th and early 20th century American coverlets but to use a modernist color scheme of black, white and gray.

A slide show and catalog of each coverlet will accompany the exhibition.

Robin Haller, professor of textile design at ECU, has a piece in the exhibit along with other North Carolina weavers Dani Burke, Barb Butler, Cassie Dickson, Melanie Wilder, Deanna Lynch, Laura Magdycz, Gabrielle Duggan and Nicole Asselin.

Gallery hours are Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Jenkins Fine Arts Center. The gallery is closed for all university holidays. The center is handicapped accessible. Individuals with disabilities who require accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act should contact the Department of Disability Support Services at least two weeks before the event at 252-737-1016. For more information, visit

Contact: Tom Braswell, interim Wellington B. Gray Gallery director, 252-328-1312 or


-by Crystal Baity, ECU News Services

Make a Difference Service Day is Oct. 28

The East Carolina University Center for Leadership and Civic Engagement (CLCE) is hosting Make A Difference Day with dozens of community partners on Saturday, Oct. 28, 2017, at various locations in Greenville and Pitt County.

Make a Difference Day is a national day of service, sponsored by USA WEEKEND magazine and Points of Light, and is the largest single-day of volunteering in the country.  Millions of volunteers across the nation will unite with the common mission to improve the lives of their neighbors.

CLCE will also collaborate with Operation InAsMuch (OIAM), which is a network of 10 churches in the Greenville area, working to make a difference in the community. The goal is to place 100-150 student volunteers with a number of community partners including Building Hope, Little Willie Center, the Pitt County Animal Shelter, RHA Howell Center and many other service sites in our community.

“ECU hosted Make a Difference Day last year with great success,” said Alex Dennis, assistant director of the ECU Center for Leadership and Civic Engagement. “This national movement is a great opportunity for students who are interested in getting connected with the community through service, learning, and leadership.”

Volunteers will start the day at 9 a.m. with an opening ceremony in the Mendenhall Student Center Great Rooms before heading to their service locations. All participants will return to Mendenhall for a reflection ceremony at 1:30 p.m.

ECU students, faculty and staff can learn more about community partner organizations and specific service activities as well as register for a service project through ECU’s OrgSync website (  Once registered for a project, a student-leader will contact all participants with additional information needed on Make A Difference Day.

For additional information, contact Alex Dennis, assistant director of the ECU Center for Leadership and Civic Engagement at  To learn more about the national Make A Difference Day, visit


Contact: Alex Dennis, assistant director, Center for Leadership and Civic Engagement

Invasive species exhibit opens at N.C. Estuarium

East Carolina University biologist April Blakeslee and students in her lab have created a new exhibit on invasive species at the North Carolina Estuarium in Washington. The exhibit will be unveiled Thursday, Oct. 26 at 4:30 p.m.

ECU biologist April Blakeslee and art and design student Kayla Clark have created a display about invasive species at the N.C. Estuarium in Washington. The exhibit opens Thursday, Oct. 26. (contributed photos)

ECU biologist April Blakeslee and art and design student Kayla Clark have created a display about invasive species at the N.C. Estuarium in Washington. The exhibit opens Thursday, Oct. 26. (contributed photos)

Funded by N.C. Sea Grant with additional contributions from the N.C. Estuarium and ECU’s Department of Biology, Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences, and Division of Research, Economic Development and Engagement, the exhibit highlights Blakeslee’s research on zombie crabs — mud crabs infected with a parasite that takes over their reproductive systems — as well as notable invaders such as lionfish and hydrilla.

“We hope that visitors will come away with a better understanding about invasive species and will be fascinated by this host-parasite system and also the important role that parasites can have in ecosystems” said Blakeslee. “They will also learn more about how each person can make a difference in preventing the spread of invaders by not releasing unwanted pets; cleaning boats of attached algae, plants and animals; cleaning boots — essentially, the message that every person can make a difference in conservation-related efforts.”

ECU art and design graduate student Kayla Clark was instrumental in the design of the exhibit, Blakeslee said. “The exhibit is truly interdisciplinary, bringing art and science together for educating about an important conservation issue.”

The zombie crab parasite is a kind of barnacle, called Loxothylacus panopaei or Loxo for short, that is native to the Gulf of Mexico but is now being found along the east coast as far north as Long Island Sound. Blakeslee and her students dubbed the infected crabs zombie crabs because they continue living but are reproductively dead. The parasite also affects the crab’s behavior, causing it to protect the egg sac as if it were the crab’s own young. The protective behavior is found not only in female crabs, but also in males, which would not normally exhibit such tendencies.

By hijacking the mud crabs’ reproductive system, Blakeslee said the parasite could have a dramatic impact on the population. She and a team of researchers are monitoring mud crab populations in eastern North Carolina to assess and track the spread of the parasite.

The N.C. Estuarium is located at 223 E. Water St. in Washington. For more information visit


-by Jules Norwood, ECU News Services

ECU students pitch ideas in Pirate Entrepreneurship Challenge

First-round voting was recently held for the Pirate Entrepreneurship Challenge, a campus-wide event put on by the College of Business’ Miller School of Entrepreneurship. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

First-round voting was recently held for the Pirate Entrepreneurship Challenge, a campus-wide event put on by the College of Business’ Miller School of Entrepreneurship. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

Nearly 700 East Carolina University students and faculty cast approximately 2,000 votes in the first round of the inaugural Pirate Entrepreneurship Challenge, which recently took place in the sculpture garden between Mendenhall Student Center and the Joyner Library. Fifty-seven student teams pitched their ideas, products or dreams and put them on display during this open-air, tradeshow-style event.

Junior Ze’Ondre Slade, along with partner Klinterica Mitchell, formed one of 57 student teams to participate in the Pirate Entrepreneurship Challenge.

Junior Ze’Ondre Slade, along with partner Klinterica Mitchell, formed one of 57 student teams to participate in the Pirate Entrepreneurship Challenge.

The challenge is the signature business pitch competition sponsored by the College of Business’ Miller School of Entrepreneurship. The entire ECU community was invited to participate, as long as one member of the team was an ECU student. Teams from the College of Business, College of Education, College of Engineering and Technology, College of Fine Arts and Communication, and Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences participated in the event.

Junior Zeondre Slade, a criminal justice major, and junior Klinterica Mitchell, an education major, are co-partners in a venture called SPLASH Learning Center. Both want to combine their passions that started as internships in their hometown of Jacksonville, North Carolina. Their goal is to open a learning-based destination for children that is a safe and secure environment.

“With me working in law, I can use those skills that I have learned throughout my college experience to work in the business,” said Slade.

Sophomore Taylor Hicks entered her existing business, Simple & Sentimental, in this year’s Pirate Entrepreneurship Challenge. If she wins, that money will go to “serve her clients better.”

Sophomore Taylor Hicks entered her existing business, Simple & Sentimental, in this year’s Pirate Entrepreneurship Challenge. If she wins, that money will go to “serve her clients better.”

Twelve teams, six chosen by ECU judges and six chosen from first-round voting, will move on to the second round. From there, five teams will advance to the third and final round and will be paired with individual mentors to help further develop the business concept. The competition concludes in February of 2018 with a total of $20,000 to be split between the first, second and third-round winners.

Making Plans

Taylor Hicks is a sophomore from Winston-Salem. As a freshman in 2016, Hicks started a company called Simple & Sentimental, which provides unique, hand-lettered products. She was an interior design major, but as it began to grow, she switched her major to business administration. The company currently has an Etsy account that has made more than 2,000 sales since opening. Hicks and her company participated in the challenge’s first round, and if she wins the competition, she already has plans for her winnings.

“We would develop a new product line to serve our customers better,” said Hicks. “We figured out what our customers like, and we need to keep going in that direction.”

Dr. Stan Eakins, dean of the College of Business, attended the challenge’s first round and was very encouraged with what he saw.

College of Business Dean Stan Eakins meets with one of the 57 student teams who participated in the Pirate Entrepreneurship Challenge.

College of Business Dean Stan Eakins meets with one of the 57 student teams who participated in the Pirate Entrepreneurship Challenge.

“The variety of ideas, products and stories that were on hand was incredible,” said Eakins. “I’m glad these ECU students saw firsthand the entrepreneurial spirit that’s alive and well at the university.”

“We had a number of goals we wanted to accomplish with this challenge,” said Dr. Mike Harris, director of the Miller School. “First and foremost, we wanted to give these future entrepreneurs an outlet to get their ideas out there and an opportunity to make those ideas come alive.”

Harris also said that the challenge was a chance to educate ECU about the Miller School of Entrepreneurship and how its resources are available to anyone at the university.

Round two of the challenge will feature five mentors who will choose five teams based on a five-minute pitch and responses to a three-minute Q&A session. The Miller School will mentor a team based on the popular student vote from round one. This round will take place Wednesday, Nov. 15, from 5-7 p.m.

According to Harris, there will be another challenge next year.


-by Michael Rudd, University Communications

Students create money management and budgeting course for transitional homeless residents

A group of graduate students in the East Carolina University School of Social Work recently created a money management and budgeting course for the transitional homeless population living in Jacksonville.

Elizabeth Lehnes, Michelle Pompos, Teri-Jo Davis, Portia Adams and Casa Woodbridge decided on the project based on needs in the area. The group was mentored by ECU professor Dr. Tracey Carpenter-Aeby.


ECU students and money management course participants are pictured at Phillips Park in Jacksonville. (Contributed photo)

ECU students and money management course participants are pictured at Phillips Park in Jacksonville. (Contributed photo)

The students partnered with the State Employees Credit Union and Jacksonville’s Trinity Baptist Church Bible Study group to offer a “Reality of Money” simulation to about 20 course participants on Sept. 16 at Phillips Park in Jacksonville.


-by Crystal Baity

Project researches community resilience

Jasmine Hayes, a master’s student in East Carolina University’s Department of Public Health, has been awarded funding to study resilience in rural communities following natural disasters.

The $10,000 grant from N.C. Sea Grant and the N.C. Water Resources Research Institute will be used to conduct focus groups and ultimately improve the understanding of how individuals and communities respond after major storms, flooding and other disasters. The Disaster Resilience Program will be conducted in Pitt and Robeson counties.

Jasmine Hayes has received funding to study community resilience. (Photo by Cliff Hollis)

Jasmine Hayes has received funding to study community resilience. (Photo by Cliff Hollis)

“We chose Pitt County because it was affected in 1999 by Hurricane Floyd, and those same communities were affected again in 2016 by Hurricane Matthew,” Hayes said. “We chose Robeson County because it’s the third-highest poverty stricken county in N.C., and also it had the highest flooding among 50 counties that were affected by Hurricane Matthew.”

Hayes is seeking members of the community to share their experiences.

“From those focus groups we want to allow people a voice that they may not have had to speak and tell their story, so that we can better assess community leaders and those programs that provide assistance and help to people who have been affected by hurricanes and disasters,” she said. “We wanted to get the perspective of community members that have been affected, to get a better understanding of what they’ve gone through, the struggles, how they feel like things could be improved for future disasters in our community.”

Suzanne Lea, associate professor in the Department of Public Health, said the study will help to articulate the perceptions and behaviors that influence how people adapt after a flooding event.

“Collectively, we aim to understand how individual resilience contributes to community resilience,” she said. “At the conclusion of this project, residents of eastern North Carolina will have helped identify strategies that enhance recovery from flooding events.”

The project’s findings will be shared with local governments and aid agencies to help in shaping response efforts for future flooding events.

For more information or to participate in the focus groups, contact Hayes at 252.744.2629.


-by Jules Norwood

Prominent magazine editor chosen as 2017 Professional-In-Residence

ECU Student Media and the School of Communication are pleased to announce that magazine editor Joanna Citrinbaum Zerlin has been selected as the 2017 Professional-In-Residence.

Zerlin’s magazine career has included desk-editing positions with Redbook, Teen Vogueand Inside TV.

The Professional-In-Residence is a two-day program that includes visits with School of Communication journalism classes and a workshop with staff members from Student Media.

Zerlin will also be the keynote speaker at the North Carolina Scholastic Media Association Workshop hosted by the School of Communication on Oct. 12. The workshop attracts high school journalists from across the region.

The Professional-In-Residence Program started in 2014 and has included Chris Korman, senior editor at USA Today, and Sara Ganim, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for CNN.

“Joanna’s experience in the magazine industry, including editing and fact-checking, as well as her roots in student journalism, make her a particularly relevant guest this year,” said John Harvey, ECU Student Media director.

Zerlin graduated from Penn State University in 2005 with bachelor’s degrees in journalism and women’s studies. She worked as a reporter and a copy editor at The Daily Collegian, the Penn State student-run newspaper, where Harvey served as her adviser. In her senior year she also served as the editorial intern at Cosmopolitan.

After graduation, Joanna participated in a two-week copy-editing residency at the University of Central Florida in preparation for her Dow Jones Newspaper Fund internship that summer at The Palm Beach Post.

Joanna began her magazine career in 2005 as a freelance copy editor at Inside TV (produced by TVGuide) and later landed a position as copy editor at Redbook. Three years later, then a senior copy editor, she left that publication for, New York City’s official tourism and marketing website. She started out as a freelance copy editor, then served as copy editor and later senior copy editor, and copyedited and fact-checked content for the Webby Award–winning site for more than four years. She returned to the magazine industry to be copy chief at Teen Vogue, a position she held for three years.

For additional information, contact Dr. Mary Tucker-McLaughlin at 252-737-1559 or John Harvey, ECU Student Media director, 252-328-9234.


Contact: John Harvey, ECU Student Media director, 252-328-9234 or Dr. Mary Tucker-McLaughlin, ECU School of Communication, 252-737-1559

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